Friday, May 23, 2008

Transgender Children - Survey Results!

So how old DO you have to be to know who you are, gender-wise?

(If you need to go back to know what I'm talking about, check out the original post from last Friday that brought up the questions in context here.)

So the results are in from our latest survey, and here's what YOU all think:

What really was amazing this past week was how many of you shared truly heartfelt and personal comments with your responses.

And just because I can, I'm adding my responses to some of the comments in italics. That way it's a bit more like a conversation...

For the "How old do you have to be to know who you are, gender-wise?" question, the comments included those below.

The age you are when you know the difference.

It's complicated, because the question inherently ties together gender and biological sex (that is, if the boy wants to live a gendered girl life, he is also assumed to want to be biologically female), and I find that assumption very troubling.
Good point - really good point. It IS an assumption.

I think it's different for everyone.

For the question about "if it were YOUR decision, how would you let a 6 year old boy who was absolutely certain they were a girl on the inside, live his life?" Your comments were even more thought-provoking.

Actually, it wasn't an option but I would have chosen, "let him live his life the way he wants to." :-)
Good point - I'll consider my questions more carefully for the next survey.

I would let my child wear whatever clothes zie want it and play with whatever toys zie chose, and choose pronouns and names and haircuts as a zie desired. Of COURSE I would be worried about the kid in school, and if the child decided to live a transgendered life I would probably work very closely with the school and the other parents to make sure there was a safe environment. But as for biological changes? I'd be a lot more wary about that. I might consider allowing drugs or exercises or somesuch which delayed puberty, as long as they had no dangerous side effects if the child changed zir mind, but I would not want my child to do anything irrevocable biologically until zir 17th or 18th birthday. But then, I'm not particularly tied to biological sex as any form of identifier, so I find it difficult to understand anyone who does. Not that I disapprove, I just let it difficult to understand.

I liked the use of "zie" instead of "he" or "she" - I hadn't seen that before!
I don't believe you can ultimately dictate the inside of a person. There may be mighty struggles for that young person, but at the end of the day the truth of who they are will take hold. We, as a society, hold fast to the visual, the acceptable and all too often forget to rejoice in the differences. I hope we can stand aside from judgment and come forth with a little extra love -- it isn't that hard to do. It really isn't.
I could marry the guy who answered that last one!

Tough decision, Lee. I was a young sissy-boy who played with dolls and while my mother didn't have the heart to forbid the girlie toys, I was still instructed to act less feminine. Now I'm a masculine homosexual, but had my parents provided no check to my behavior, I wonder if I might have ended up transgender. I honestly don't think I would have been happier than I am now. Am I prejudiced? Maybe so.

Wow. Fascinating. Thank you for sharing so openly!

ALL POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES must be considered, not only those of transition BUT ALSO THOSE OF REFRAINING FROM TRANSITION. A child may not know what career he or she will choose later in life and may not understand whether he or she is liberal or conservative until perhaps high school or college age, but gender identification is known to a child early in life.

People know innately who they are. This cannot be changed. Why should a person have to struggle through life hiding who they are.

Why should we force them to conform to our ideas?

This was really interesting. It brings up the whole inter-sex debate, about those who don't choose to identify as either male or female, but as a third gender. Hmmm... There will be lots more to discuss about that in the future!

I can't decide. I'd be perfectly happy to let him do "girly" things - play with Barbies, wear pink - hell, he can wear a tutu if he wants, but I don't know if I'd be able to call him my daughter. I think I'd figure it was a phase. My brother wore pretty girly stuff when he was little and we'd play games where we were both girls, but he didn't grow up to be transgender. I have no problem with transgendered adults (or teens), but it seems like 6 is too young to be making life-long decisions. I'd let him live how he was happy, play how and with what he wanted, (I'd probably be willing to call him Cindy for a while, but pray that it was like another kid wanting me to call him Fireman Bob) and let the big decisions like calling him my daughter and doing official name-changes and deciding about hormone therapy wait until he was a pre-teen or teenager. I think the most important thing I could do was let him know that I supported him and loved him regardless who he grew up to be.

What a difficult thing to have to decide! But ultimately, you have to think about the overall well-being of your child. With teen suicide rates what they are, especially with GLBTQ teens, I would rather help my child deal with the repercussions of being who s/he is (like bullying, etc) than make him/her try to deny something that essential.
Essential. Well said. Identity is Essential.

This is a fascinating Issue. And a fascinating Discussion. And I have to say that YOU, my blog readers - my blogsite community - are a truly thoughtful (as in full-of-thought) and wonderful folk.

Thank you all so much for sharing, and for being part of the survey! And thank you for being part of this journey!

Have a great long holiday weekend (at least it's a holiday here in the U.S.)



1 comment:

Rita said...

How wonderful--to read so many lovely, articulate, honest comments!

Thank you for sharing this discussion with us, Lee!